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Fenway Game Is Official, Schedule & Roster Released

The rumors became true today as a press conference took place at Fenway Park to announce Frozen Fenway 2012.  Where to start.  Well, I guess we’ll start with the basics.  UMass will be facing the Vermont Catamounts on January 7th at Fenway Park with a 4pm start.    Tickets will go one sale on September 13th.  Tickets will be on sale through the Red Sox website as well as through the individual schools.  There are potentially other events and even some community skating lined up, but the college hockey doubleheader between the four New England flagships is the pinnacle of the ice being laid down at Fenway.

I was lucky enough, thanks to Hockey East, to attend the press conference and I honestly can’t wait for this game to happen.  It was a little strange to be thinking about sitting outdoors bundled up for the frigid winter cold to watch hockey while melting in field box seats at Fenway.  But since this game will take place only a week after playing in sunny Fort Myers, maybe it won’t be the only time we’re thinking hockey while in sweltering temperatures.

The press conference was entertaining.  Tom Caron essentially MC’ed the event which featured Mayor Tom Menino (no huge speech bumbles but he did call us the  rarely used “University of Mass” a couple of times), Commissioner Joe Betagna, Red Sox exec Sam Kennedy, and the four respective coaches.  Everyone said….well pretty much what you’d expect them to say.  There was then some time for Q&A.  It was cool to hear what the different coaches and players (Co-captain T.J. Syner was there to represent UMass) thought about the upcoming games.  But it was also cool to just stand on the Fenway warning track in front of canvas alley.

Just a few thoughts coming out of today.  First, I love that we’re playing Vermont.  For those who have been reading all summer you’ll know that I did a whole thing on who is UMass’ rival.  While voters on the Fear The Triangle Facebook page picked Maine, my vote was for the Catamounts.  My reasoning for that choice was the long history that exists between the schools and the pure opportunity to build a rivalry that doesn’t really exist with other schools.  Well, today both Coach Cahoon and UVM Coach Kevin Sneddon specifically mentioned the historic rivalry that dates back decades between these schools.  Toot actually brought up the introduction of the Turkey Tuesday game when he became coach as a way to help build that relationship between the schools.  I love this matchup.  A thrilling game in January and we could be well on our way to having a real rival.

The other thing I wanted to mention is just to point out what a huge deal this is.  Dick Baker of the Republican asked a great question.  He asked, essentially, is this our Beanpot?  Toot came back and said players get four years to play for the Beanpot, this is a once in a lifetime event.  Totally true.  Who knows when or if something like this will happen again.  And he said the players were psyched.  T.J. Syner, a Massachusetts native, sounded excited about the opportunity.  Toot said fellow Co-captain Danny Hobbs called from Quebec and was also thrilled at the chance.  And I really hope the UMass fans and alumni treat it the same way.  Today UMass hockey was front and center on one of the biggest sports stages in the world.  Come January 7th, it’ll be there again.  I hope everyone who considers themselves a UMass fan, every alumni, any friend of the university, and any college hockey fan will make sure to be there when UMass takes the….field(?) in January.

Couple other tidbits from today.

UMass will be getting another new jersey this year according to Toot.  I’m guessing it’ll replace the third we saw last year, which I liked in general but thought the Sam on the jersey was a little too mini-Minuteman for my liking.  As part of the press conference highlights were shown of the Boston College-Boston University game at Fenway from a couple seasons ago where both teams wore unique, and frankly pretty stylish,  jerseys.  That got Toot thinking as to whether it’d be a possibility to do the same for UMass.  I suggested triangles.  No, I really did.

Sam the Minuteman, along with the pair of cats from UNH and UVM, fared well despite the heat on the Fenway field.  The same could not be said of Maine’s beloved mascot, Bananas, who passed out and was MIA when the press conference started.  Good news is he is alright and should be up and pushing around shopping carts full of rubber pucks in no time.

Caron made sure to mention that Toot was the best dressed of the four coaches, sporting a suit while the other wore polo shirts.  Toot kidded that he wore the suit because he went to church to thank God for the opportunity to play at Fenway.  Amen to that.

Lastly, I asked Toot if the game was played tonight who he’d put in net because, well isn’t that what everyone wants to know?  He said he’d have to go with his veteran (Jeff Teglia), but that there was a lot of time between now and the game.

At the press conference this year’s roster and official schedule was released.  No real surprises on the roster.  Mike Donnellan is not listed.  Donnellan struggled to get playing time, so it’s not unexpected to see him absent from the list.  I always thought that Donnellan played well enough during his limited time and really hoped he’d be used as a forward last year when the team was obviously lacking a physical element.  But it looks like the team and he have moved on.  Certainly good luck to him wherever his future takes him.  Other than that all the other players are returning and the expected  incoming freshmen are all listed as well.

Here is the final schedule that was distributed, which has evolved a bit over the summer.  All start times are 7pm unless noted:

Fri 10/7 at Northeastern
Fri 10/14 Bentley
Sat 10/15 at Providence
Fri 10/21 at Boston College
Fri 10/28 Boston University
Sat 10/29 at Boston University
Fri 11/4 at New Hampshire
Sat 11/5 Boston College
Fri 11/11 Holy Cross
Sat 11/12 Northeastern
Fri 11/18 Maine
Sat 11/19 at Lowell
Tue 11/22 at Vermont
Sat 11/26 at Quinnipiac (4pm)
Fri 12/2 Harvard
Wed 12/7 Yale
Thu 12/29 Cornell (time TBA) – Everblades Classic in Estero FL
Fri 12/30 Clarkson/Maine (time TBA) – Everblades Classic in Estero FL (Cornell/Maine/Clarkson)
Thu 1/5 at Providence
Sat 1/7 Vermont – Frozen Fenway 2012 (4pm)
Fri 1/13 Boston College
Fri 1/20 Vermont
Fri 1/27 Lowell
Sat 1/28 at Lowell
Fri 2/3 at Northeastern
Sat 2/4 Merrimack
Fri 2/10 at Boston University
Sat 2/11 Providence
Fri 2/17 at Maine
Sat 2/18 at Maine
Fri 2/24 New Hampshire
Sat 2/25 New Hampshire
Fri 3/2 Merrimack
Sat 3/3 at Merrimack

I find it a bit strange that the one Vermont game that will be at the Mullins (UMass is losing a home game for the Fenway matchup) is on a Friday instead of a Saturday.

I’ll have more thoughts on the schedule, roster, and projected lines in the weeks to come as we lead up to October.

Lastly, the obvious choice for my Beer The Triangle pick for the Fenway game is Beer Works, within stumbling distance of anyone’s overprice Red Sox seats..  However, I finally made it to Lower Depths, located on Comm Ave, today and I have to say I was quite impressed.  I had a very good farmhouse ale from Great Divide but was blown away by a tremendous Doppel Bock from Westephaner.  It was excellent, almost had a scotch ale flavor to it (which, by coincidence, is on deck for my BTT homebrewing).  Anyway, I think I might have to make a few more research trips to see if this will be my pregame pick for the Fenway game.

Here’s the official UMass release for the Fenway game.

Dick Baker does a great job describing today’s event.

In what makes a ton of sense, most, if not all, of the CCHA teams are merging with the WCHA.  Find a place for UAH and I think we can call it a day.

Finally, I’m too young to remember his UMass days, but I do remember former Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan as a Baltimore Oriole and I’m sorry to see a UMass legend go too soon

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6 Comments

  1. Daniel

     /  August 26, 2011

    I am very happy to see that we are the first game so it may be a little warmer than the 7 o’clock game. I am really hoping the either the WCHA or AHC take Alabama-Huntsville college hockey needs to gain teams and not lose them.

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  2. George

     /  August 26, 2011

    It all good and another solid write up Rocks. But the people (your readers) have spoken regarding the rivalry. You and Toot seem to be on one side and many on the other. There is a lot of ECAC history between Vermont and Massachusetts but that’s where it pretty much stops. I think Brock Hines put it best when we talked about it last season after the 4-4 tie with Maine at home in the regular season finale that got us into the playoffs, saying rivalries are mostly created when teams play games of consequence against each other” and there have been more of those against the Orono Bears then perhaps all the other Hockey East teams combined and they’ve been heated ones in many cases.

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    • I don’t argue that rivalries are born out of intense games that matter. And certainly most of the important games UMass has played in recent history have come against Maine. The problem is Maine already has a couple teams ahead of UMass who they consider rivals and that’s not likely to change soon. After all, it’s not a coincidence that Maine is playing UNH at Fenway and not UMass. If we can play some big spotlight games against Vermont, like the one on January 7th, hopefully it can build to an established rivalry. It’s all about potential and the potential of a deep rivalry with Vermont is better than that with Maine.

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  3. “That got Toot thinking as to whether it’d be a possibility to do the same for UMass. I suggested triangles. No, I really did.” – Awesome.

    Your thoughts on Maine/UVM are dead on…Maine would be a perfect rival for us given the last 8 years of history (although the ’95 win and the Markus Helanan series could count too). Unfortunately, we’re never going to be Maine’s rival because of the presence of UHN (ahh, old skool USCHO jokes). The potential for a UMass/UVM rivalry is there, and you could argue that the rivalry from the ECAC just needs to be rekindled. Jan 7th is a great start.

    I hope my team doesn’t have a game that night…

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  4. George

     /  August 27, 2011

    And I liked the triangles too!!!!
    I guess the point is you can’t create a rivalry purely on geography and history and I would put UNH, and even Lowell and Merrimack before Vermont for us. Although we can’t be chief rivals with Maine, we are still rivals.
    Thanks for your coverage.

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